Women in Innovation: Maddison McCoy, Nourish Ingredients

We interview women in our community about innovation and what drives them to make a difference in their industries. This week we spoke to Maddison McCoy, Project Coordinator at Nourish Ingredients.

Tell us about what you are working on.

I am a Project Coordinator at Nourish, where I split my time evenly between the technical and operational sides of the business. With a background in synthetic biology and law, I am responsible for developing and implementing software systems, operational procedures, and project management resources for the company. I also work closely with scientists to manage their research and development projects, drawing on my experience in engineering microbes to increase lipid production. Beyond my day-to-day responsibilities, I am actively engaged in Nourish’s efforts to deregulate our novel food products, mapping out processes to ensure their success.

Why is innovation important to you?

I think innovation, regardless of discipline is a driving force for all new concepts / ideas. At Nourish, innovation is a vital part of our business strategy, and I personally share this value. Despite the many challenges our current world faces, I believe in the incredible potential of the human race to overcome them through collaboration and innovation. As a scientist, I view problems as opportunities for new ideas and solutions. The kindling for an idea to spark. Innovation is the driving force that improves our quality of life. It’s also the foundation of other disciplines, like in the arts.

What drives you to make a difference?

When I was 18 I lived in Brazil. I became quite close friends with some people that lived in the favelas of Sao Paulo. At the time I was your typical teenager, all angsty and “woe-is-me”. I met a man whose entire family was caught in the crossfires of a gang shooting. He was an old man, living alone and I spent the evening at a BBQ talking to him about Australia and he told me about his life. When he was 6yo he stopped school to start working – selling things on the street. In his teens, he taught himself some DIY electrical work so that he could highjack some power from the powerlines and power his family home. By the time he was an adult, he’d powered his entire street and helped build new houses. He gave me one of the few photos he had of himself, from a school photo day, from when he was 6yo. He said he’s lost all of his loved ones so had no one to give it to. So, he gave it to me and he said to me that any time I feel like giving up, or I don’t want to study, for me to look at that photo and be grateful for the opportunities I have. He told me I have the power to help people like him and that if I have the power then I should. So then and there at that BBQ, I made a promise to him and to myself that I would always endeavor to make a difference in the world.

Do you have any advice for getting more women into innovation and entrepreneurship?

Yes -I think women should be unapologetically present. I never apologise for taking up space or being “loud” or “opinionated”. I love learning and meeting new people and I think everyone has something to bring to the table. I believe that women should foster this quality in each other as well. I love boasting about my friends saying how amazing / intelligent / strong they are. We all have the ability to innovate. Sometimes what’s stopping us is ourselves. My biggest tip is invest your time in people that lift and inspire you. If you surround yourself with positive people, you will start to feel more positive about your abilities.

What are you proud of right now?

Right now, I’m super proud of re-igniting the “SBA Canberra Node” (Synthetic Biology Australasia). It’s a Bi-monthly event, where we have 2x speakers talking all things SynBio. We also have some food and drinks and opportunity to network. It’s a great way to meet people in the SynBio community in Canberra. I arrived to Canberra a year ago missing this social aspect of the science community and I’m proud of myself for getting it going again. It’s a lot of fun and I encourage anyone who’s interested to come. Even if you’re not a synthetic biologist. (To join the emailing list email: sbacanberra@gmail.com)

Thanks for chatting Maddison!

If you would like to hear from more inspirational women in innovation, make sure to come along to our Female Founders events.